Faculty & Staff

Leadership Team

Mr. Matthew Lynch President lynch@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Lynch began his career in education as a teacher at a federal prison in Virginia and a juvenile detention facility in Maryland. He later taught and coached at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, a Jesuit Nativity middle school in Baltimore. Upon returning to his hometown of Chicago, Mr. Lynch worked as a teacher and administrator at St. Ignatius College Prep. He subsequently assembled and led the team that has founded Chicago Jesuit Academy. Mr. Lynch holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Georgetown cum laude and a Master of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis. He is a recipient of St. Ignatius College Prep’s Alumni Medal, the Community Renewal Society’s 35-under-35 Award, St. Josaphat Parish’s Unity Award, and Georgetown University’s Kraft Medal.
Mr. Thomas Beckley Principal beckley@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Beckley began his career as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Columbia University. While serving as an officer in Rome, Italy, he completed the first cycles of Philosophy and Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Mr. Beckley has traveled throughout Europe and is fluent in Italian and German. He holds a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University Chicago and formerly taught Social Studies at Gordon Technical High School and coached cross country and track.
Mrs. Jenna Boyle Dean of Academics & Faculty Member boyle@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Boyle earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a secondary Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University while studying through the Honors College. She is an alum of Teach For America, where she spent two years teaching science and mathematics at Warren County Middle School in rural Eastern North Carolina. Mrs. Boyle joined CJA as a science and mathematics faculty member and graduate support director in June 2010 and is now Dean of Academics and a science faculty member. She is also responsible for Bodie, CJA’s school dog.
Mr. David Diehl Dean of Students & Faculty Member diehl@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Diehl earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Villanova University. He has been afforded the privilege to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in the United States and Africa. Mr. Diehl began teaching middle school in Chicago in the summer of 2000. He has since earned his Master of Science in Education from Northwestern University. Mr. Diehl has been nominated for the Golden Apple Award during his time at CJA. He is happily married with two wonderful daughters.
Mrs. Anne Durkin Dean of the Lower School & Faculty Member durkin@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Durkin came to CJA after graduating from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Human Development cum laude. While at Boston College, Mrs. Durkin served as a student teacher for four semesters. She also spent a semester abroad continuing her studies in Human Development at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy.
Dr. Anne Elsener Dean of Curriculum & Instruction elsener@cjacademy.org Bio
Dr. Elsener began her teaching career with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Special Education from Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana and then obtained her Master’s in Education from the University of Notre Dame’s ACE program. She earned her doctoral degree from Indiana University in Literacy, Culture, and Language Education. She has taught reading, writing, social studies, and mathematics at the elementary and middle school level. Before coming to CJA she was a professor at Dominican University in River Forest, IL in the School of Education.
Ms. Raynesia Fleming Director of Social Work Services fleming@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Fleming is a Chicagoland native and graduated from Mother Theodore Guerin High School. She studied Psychology and Sociology at Western Illinois University and went on to earn a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana in 2009. Prior to CJA, she worked as a social worker for Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy and Holmes Elementary School in Oak Park, IL. In addition to her social work experience, Ms. Fleming has served as a graduate counselor at University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana and worked as a counselor for Upward Bound in Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Fleming is extremely thankful and overjoyed to be working with the families and staff of CJA.
Mr. Gerry Geyer Director of Facilities geyer@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Geyer joined CJA’s team in the winter of 2015. Prior to CJA, Mr. Geyer spent two decades in the Futures Industry, in addition to several positions in retail and office management.
Mr. Peter Gosselar Chief Information Officer gosselar@cjacademy.org Bio
Originally hailing from Holland, Michigan, Mr. Gosselar earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science from Kenyon College and a Master of Arts in Social Science from the University of Chicago. He came to CJA following three years as a political campaign consultant and three years as a researcher for the Washington, DC-based consumer rights group Public Citizen. While at Kenyon, Mr. Gosselar worked the college’s tech support line and was a member of the Varsity Swim team.
Ms. Terese Hagerty Dean of Programs & Faculty Member hagerty@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Hagerty began teaching at CJA in 2012. Prior to that, she spent two years teaching math, science and religion in Montgomery, Alabama at St. Jude Educational Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Marquette University and, as a member of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program, earned a Master of Education degree. She teaches science and coordinates volunteer involvement at CJA.
Mr. Matt Houlihan Dean of the 6th Grade & Faculty Member houlihan@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Houlihan earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Education from the University of Notre Dame. He is a graduate of the University’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program. He spent two years in Mobile, Alabama, teaching at Most Pure Heart of Mary School. He served as a teacher of history, religion, art and physical education. He was a football coach, discipline chair and acting vice principal in his time there. He has also taught at Franklin Middle School in Champaign, Illinois, where he taught reading and history and directed the school’s intramural sports program. While a student at Notre Dame, he participated in the National Youth Sports Program and volunteered with Teamwork for Tomorrow.
Mr. Jay Kemper Director of College-Persistence Programs kemper@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Kemper joined CJA after three years of service with the human rights organization, Heartland Alliance. At Heartland, he taught and counseled immigrant and refugee youth while working to reunify them with their families. Mr. Kemper is bilingual in Spanish and has worked with students across the globe, teaching at a grade school in Santiago, an orphanage in Buenos Aires, and a bilingual college-preparatory high school in Budapest. A native of Chicago, he holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Spanish from the University of Dayton magna cum laude.
Mr. Mike Mason Dean of 7th Grade & Faculty Member mason@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Mason came to CJA after spending two years with Teach For America in the Mississippi Delta, teaching 7th and 8th grade math at Hazlehurst Middle School. He graduated from Boston College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History. While at Boston College he volunteered as a tutor at a local grade school and went on a Pedro Arrupe immersion trip to Nicaragua. In Hazlehurst, he also served as the head coach of the middle school football program. In addition to his work at CJA, he is pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Mrs. Maria Lefkow Sorensen Director of Development sorensen@cjacademy.org Bio
A Chicago native and a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep, Ms. Lefkow Sorensen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Tulane University. Ms. Lefkow Sorensen came to CJA after twelve years at The Princeton Review, a leading standardized test preparation company where she served as Executive Director of the Illinois office. In 2010, Ms. Lefkow Sorensen joined the CJA Junior Board and co-chaired the annual Give-A-Little Gala. She subsequently became a full-time member of the CJA community.
Mrs. Janet Underwood Academic Consultant   Bio
Mrs. Underwood retired from Sacred Heart Schools on Sheridan Road in 2005 where she served for fourteen years, first as Principal of Hardey Preparatory, then as Head of Schools for both the Academy and Hardey Prep and finally as Head of the Lower School of both the Academy and Hardey Prep. Prior to that, she was Dean of Students at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart from 1975 to 1978. Mrs. Underwood earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Barat College of the Sacred Heart, studied Theology at Catholic University of America and earned a Master of Science in Administration degree from University of Notre Dame. Mrs. Underwood served and completed two three-year terms as a member of the Board of Trustees at St. Ignatius College Prep where she chaired the School Programs Committee. Mrs. Underwood also served a three-year term on the Ancona School Board of Trustees. She remains on the education committees at both schools. Mrs. Underwood is a member of the Educational Committee for the Clinical Pastoral Educational Program of the Church Home at Montgomery Place, a social service agency of the Episcopal Charities and Community Services of Chicago. Mrs. Underwood became a member of the Board of Directors of Chicago Jesuit Academy in 2012 and the Academic Affairs Committee in 2008, which she now chairs.
Mr. Tom Van Grinsven Director of Operations & Communications vangrinsven@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Van Grinsven came to CJA in 2012 after serving as a City Year Corps Member in Boston, where he served at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School. A Chicago native and a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from the College of the Holy Cross where he also served as the captain of the Men’s Varsity Soccer team. In addition to his work at CJA, he is pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Faculty & Staff

Mr. Brian Ahern Social Work Intern ahern@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Ahern hails from Seattle, Washington, and has since lived in Boston, New Orleans, Houston and here in Chicago. Before joining Chicago Jesuit Academy, he taught special education at Amandla Charter School. Mr. Ahern is currently in his second year of the JVC Magis Program where he is serving as a social work intern at CJA and pursuing a Masters in Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.
Mr. Keith Brooks Drum Line Director  brooks@cjacademy.org Bio
Keith Brooks is an active performing and recording drummer in the Chicago area. He gained an interest in drums at the age of two years while watching his uncle play every Sunday morning. He began formal training in elementary school in Oak Park and discovered jazz. The guidance he received in elementary, junior high and high school led to a Bachelor’s of Music in Music Business from Elmhurst College and Master’s Degree in Jazz Performance from DePaul University. At DePaul he studied with Bob Rummage. These degrees have led him to be a private drum instructor. He has traveled overseas to perform in The Czech Republic and Canada. He has shared the stage with a number of great Jazz musicians and composers such as Phil Woods, Benny Goldson, Steve Weist, Bill Holman, Warren Luening, Tom Scott, Patrick Williams, Gary Smulyan, Jeff Hamilton and Mark Colby. He is also currently the Minister of Music at the Chicago Salem M.B.H. Church in Chicago, where he instructs the choirs and musicians in Gospel music. He is currently endorsed by T-Cymbals and Scorpion Percussion (drum stick company).
Mrs. Sara Buethe Faculty Member buethe@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Buethe joined the CJA faculty after working for two years at the Big Shoulders Fund as a math instructional coach. Prior to that, she taught second and third grade at Northside Catholic Academy in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. Mrs. Buethe earned her Masters in Elementary Education from Loyola University Chicago as part of the LU-CHOICE (Loyola University Chicago Opportunities in Catholic Education) program, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Marquette University. She is excited to be teaching 6th grade math this year at CJA.
Mr. Marques Carroll Music and Jazz Band Director carroll@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Carroll earned a Bachelor of Arts from DePaul University Music School with a focus in Jazz Studies Performance and a Master of Music from the Graduate Program at DePaul. He is a freelance musician who has carved his own path in the music scene by being a diverse trumpet player, bandleader and educator. He has played with Jazz artist such as Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, Dana Hall, Jimmy Heath, Jeff Hamilton, Dick Oates, Joe Lovano, Bob Brookmeyer, Clark Terry, and countless others. He has also worked with artists such as B.B. King, Buddy Guy, The Temptations, The Ojays, and others. Mr. Carroll is in his sixth year as Musical Director for CJA. Mr. Carroll is also a private trumpet instructor for the New Trier Music Department and a sub instructor for the Midwest Young Artist organization.
Mrs. Rebecca Centioli Development Officer centioli@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Centioli came to CJA in 2016 after ten years at KIPP Chicago Schools. At KIPP, Mrs. Centioli served as Chief Development Officer, raising funds for the organization’s growth from two to six schools. Prior to her work in development, Mrs. Centioli worked directly with KIPP’s students and alumni through the KIPP Through College Program. Mrs. Centioli is a proud graduate of Loyola Academy and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with minors in Education, Schooling and Society and Catholic Social Tradition from the University of Notre Dame.
Mrs. Kate Cooney Development Officer & Reading Specialist cooney@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Cooney came to CJA after spending three years with Teach For America in Boston, MA. Mrs. Cooney taught Reading at Excel Academy Charter School while earning her Master of Education from Boston University. Prior to beginning her teaching career, Mrs. Cooney worked in Los Angeles through Jesuit Volunteer Corps as an employment specialist, assisting homeless men and women in finding permanent housing and employment. Mrs. Cooney graduated from Boston College in 2010, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, with a minor in Faith, Peace and Justice studies.
Mr. Mike Crean Faculty Member crean@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Crean comes to CJA with over ten years of teaching experience. He has taught in Alabama, Connecticut, and Spain where he recently returned from two years as an English teacher. Mr. Crean earned his Master’s in Education from the University of Notre Dame’s ACE program. He holds a B.A. in Childhood Studies and Religious Studies from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and was a member of the men’s soccer team.
Mrs. Charlotte Curtis Administrative Assistant to the Principal curtis@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Curtis came to CJA with over 15 years of social and customer service experience. She worked with the Cook County Social Service Department within the Domestic Violence and Diversity Units. She was co-owner of Curtis & Curtis Mobile Notary Service where she focused on working with companies and clients notarizing various documents. She earned her Bachelor degree in Law Enforcement Administration and a Master’s degree in Sociology from Western Illinois University. She has a son who graduated from CJA as a member of the Class of 2015 and currently attends Culver Academies (IN).
Ms. Katie DiPiero College-Persistence Counselor dipiero@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. DiPiero joins the College-Persistence Team after working five years at Academy of St. Benedict the African in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. She first served there as an Amate House volunteer and most recently their Director of Admissions and Communications. Ms. DiPiero holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana and also studied abroad in Rome, Italy. She’s thrilled to be joining the CJA family!
Ms. Emma Doucette Faculty Member doucette@cjacademy.org Bio
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts in English, Ms. Doucette joined Teach for America in Phoenix, Arizona. There she served as a special education teacher at Cesar E. Chavez Community School in the Roosevelt School District and earned a Masters of Education from Arizona State University. Ms. Doucette then taught Advanced Language Arts for fifth through eighth grade at her own alma mater, Serra Catholic School in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Mrs. Pam Gilmour School Nurse gilmour@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Gilmour came to CJA as a registered nurse with post-graduate board certification in pediatrics. She began her career working in a hospital emergency department, an immunization outreach clinic for the state of Florida, and a family practice where she had the privilege of assisting Guatemalan and Haitian migrant workers with their health care needs. Mrs. Gilmour later worked in Ravenna City Schools as a district R.N. and developed a Health and Family Living curriculum for middle school students. She spent nine years in Columbus, Ohio, at St. Joseph Montessori nursing and teaching seventh- and eighth-grade Life Science. Mrs. Gilmour is a volunteer for Ronald McDonald House Loyola University Medical Center and a telescope facilitator at the Adler Planetarium.
Ms. Mary Grawe Development Officer & Learning Specialist grawe@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Grawe came to CJA having spent three years working for a fundraising management company at both the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and the University of Chicago. Prior to this, she spent two years teaching fourth grade in the Mississippi Delta through Teach For America. During that time, she also served as the director of the school musical. It was her experience working at Lexington Elementary School that led her to join the CJA community. Ms. Grawe is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Dayton.
Ms. Hannah Jones Social Work Intern jones@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Jones grew up in Moscow, Russia and moved to Denver, Colorado in 2007. There she attended the great Jesuit institution of Regis University, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies. She then volunteered as a social worker in Belize City with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps for two years. There, she spent her time working to help families receive housing and riding her motorcycle. Ms. Jones is now a 1st year social work student at Loyola University Chicago. At CJA, she will work with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders alongside Ms. Fleming. In her free time, Ms. Jones loves dancing, subverting the patriarchal paradigm, and identifying as a Hufflepuff.
Ms. Caleen Kennedy Social Worker kennedy@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Kennedy is a Chicago native and attended Carmel Catholic High School. She studied Advertising and Studio Art at Marquette University and earned a Masters in Social Work at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to CJA, Ms. Kennedy was a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and served two years in Kathmandu, Nepal as a teacher at St. Xavier’s-Godavari.
Ms. Alana Kenny Faculty Member kenny@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Kenny, a Chicago native, graduated from Loyola Academy in 2011. She then continued to Miami University of Ohio, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Kenny began volunteering with CJA in 2013. Over the past two summers, she has worked in the Chicago College Prep Summer Program (CCPSP) as well as the Foundations summer program.
Mr. Ben Klooster Community Outreach and Compliance Manager klooster@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Ben Klooster is a graduate of Grinnell College, where he studied English and Spanish. He recently earned an MBA from the Questrom Business School at Boston University. He has worked in Boston in education in a variety of roles –serving as a founding member on the leadership team of a charter middle school, managing large teams of educators, directing school operations and running after-school programs. He lives in Austin with his wife and dog.
Mr. Ben Locke Faculty Member locke@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Locke earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. After graduating summa cum laude, he joined Teach For America and taught 7th grade Social Studies for two years in Baltimore, MD. While teaching in Baltimore, Mr. Locke earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Johns Hopkins University. He then taught 10th grade U.S. History, Advanced Placement U.S. History, and a character education course at Perspectives IIT Math & Science Academy in Chicago for three years before joining CJA.
Ms. Sara Lynch Faculty Member slynch@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Lynch comes to CJA after teaching for five years in the Archdiocese of Chicago. She is a Chicago native and a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Dayton and earned her Master of Education in Elementary Education from Loyola University Chicago. Ms. Lynch began her teaching career as a member of Loyola’s LU CHOICE volunteer teaching program.
Ms. Megan Ptacek Mortensen Gift Processing and Database Coordinator mortensen@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Mortensen began her career as a reporter for The American Banker, a daily financial newspaper in New York. In 2001, she was accepted to the New York City Teaching Fellows Program, a program to bring new teachers into under-performing schools through alternative certifications. She taught seventh-grade Language Arts in Brooklyn, New York. Through that program she received her master’s degree in secondary education at Brooklyn College. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Villanova University and is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep. Before joining Chicago Jesuit Academy, she worked as a Project Manager for KHLowery Consulting, a higher education publishing consulting firm in Chicago. She currently serves as chair of the Local School Council for her children’s elementary school in Chicago.
Ms. Megan O’Brien Bookkeeper obrien@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. O’Brien came to CJA after several years of assisting several area not-for-profit agencies with accounting and bookkeeping as a consultant. Ms. O’Brien earned her Bachelor of Science in Finance from Indiana University.
Ms. Sonia Odom Faculty Member odom@cjacademy.org Bio
Originally from San Francisco, Ms. Odom attended St. Ignatius College Preparatory before attending Loyola University New Orleans and is now overjoyed to be apart of another Jesuit institution as a teacher. After graduating in 2015 with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a minor in African & African-American Studies, Ms. Odom taught lower elementary in a New Orleans Recovery School District charter school. Ms. Odom recently graduated from the inaugural cohort of the New Orleans Teaching Residency program in the Relay Graduate School of Education. This year, she will continue to pursue her Masters in Teaching from Relay Chicago.
Mr. Sam Rathke Faculty Member rathke@cjacademy.org Bio
Mr. Rathke did his undergraduate work at DePaul University right here in Chicago. During his four years he ran an afterschool program at the Kelly Hall YMCA which led him towards teaching. He has been working at CJA since 2013 as the fifth-grade Social Studies teacher. He loves coaching and being a member of CJA’s close-knit community.
Mrs. Jane Reidy Librarian reidy@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Reidy came to CJA along with a team of “St. Ignatius High School Service Moms”. Following their establishment of a library at St. Procopius in Pilsen, the “moms” offered to set up a library at CJA. Jane coordinated this effort and has served as the CJA school librarian for the past 4 years. Jane graduated from Boston College and pursued a business career in Chicago at Helene Curtis and Nutrasweet until staying home to raise her 3 children. She is a proud graduate of Trinity HS in River Forest, IL.
Ms. Dori Rogers Faculty Member rogers@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Rogers graduated from Geneva High School in 2011. She earned dual Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees in Art Education and Photography as well as a minor in Spanish from the University of Illinois. Her student teaching experience in Champaign, IL led her to join the CJA team. She spent last summer as a member of the Illini 4000 team, riding her bicycle from NYC to San Francisco in order to raise money and awareness for cancer.
Ms. Toya Shaffer Lower School Aide shaffer@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Shaffer is a graduate of Oak Park River Forest High School. Prior to working at CJA, she worked at Woodruff Funeral Home. She has also volunteered at Carol Robertson Day Care Center, Alain Locke Charter Academy and Urban Prep High School (West Campus).
Ms. Jordan Swofford Faculty Member swofford@cjacademy.org Bio
Ms. Swofford is a Chicago native and is eager to join the CJA community. She joins CJA after teaching for six years in the Archdiocese of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Indiana University at Bloomington. This fall she will be teaching in CJA’s Lower School.
Mrs. Jessie Walsh College-Persistence Counselor walsh@cjacademy.org Bio
Mrs. Walsh is a Chicago native and attended high school at St. Ignatius College Prep. She studied Secondary Education and Journalism at Indiana University and went on to earn a Masters in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. Prior to CJA, she worked as a social worker at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls and Glenbrook North High School.
Mr. Jitim Young Faculty Member young@cjacademy.org Bio
A graduate of Gordon Technical High School, Mr. Young was a National Honor Society student who also excelled on the basketball court as a high school All-American. He attended Northwestern University graduating with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication Studies and Minor in Sociology. Prior to working at Chicago Jesuit Academy, Mr. Young played eight years of professional basketball traveling the world, but also mentoring young people in different countries. He is actively involved with the media covering Northwestern Basketball games on WGN Radio, and working with various sports media entities.

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